New partnership aims to improve firefighter health

After The Fire

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A new partnership is helping to keep firefighters healthy in East Texas.

They will now be monitored after battling blazes... At no cost to these brave men and women.

They fight the fire, we provide the medical,” explains Dr. Yagnesh Desai, Medical Director, UT-Health East Texas EMS and Air 1.

Starting now, UT-Health East Texas is helping firefighters manage the demands of their job.

It's part of a partnership between u-t health East Texas, and five of its surrounding area county fire departments' they serve.

If their heart rate is beyond what their max heart rate should be that's very concerning that you know that they're at risk for a bad outcome and they need to cool down, get some rest, and let their heart rate normalize,” explains Dr. Desai.

Before Dr. Desai, there was no strategic plan in place for prioritizing firefighter’s health.

There weren’t concrete guidelines in place to help guide hey once the heart-rate gets above this level or blood pressure gets below or above this, we really need to sit you out,” adds Dr. Desai.

Advocates of firefighters want to make sure EMT’s are supplying firefighters with the services they need.

We want to ensure that particularly in the summertime, during the hotter months, that they're hydrating well, they're taking breaks and they're not letting their bodies overheat or overexert themselves.”

JD Smith is the Assistant Fire Chief with Smith County ESD2. He says the exposure of responding to emergency situations can be physically demanding.

The fire ground is very dynamic and its very physiological, physical, and emotionally stressful,” explains Smith.

Fire officials say being evaluated after each call is crucial.

Having our guys checked out on scene and making sure they're good to go when they leave is a great thing. In 2018 probably 40% of on duty firefighter deaths were sudden cardiac death. Our rehab purposes are trying to prevent that,” adds Smith.

Smith and Dr. Dasai agree the partnership is a win-win.

“Part of rehab, part of the checking each other out like that is to mitigate those issues so we keep the guys ready to fight fire,” says Smith.

It's important that we take of them and we make sure that they're in good shape to be able to handle these stressors when they're out there,” explains Dr. Dasai.

Officials with u-t health say they plan to collect data on the firefighters at a later date.

New partnership aims to improve firefighter health

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